The Story of Humble Beginning

Girls Education Mission International was emerged out of the pressing need among young women and girls who face gender based discrimination and are therefore deprived of education and training opportunities to attain a better life. In 2007, Keturah Shammah saw the need of reaching out to and advancing the circumstances of girls who have no strong motivation to pursue their education and reach potentials. Her inner guidance is influenced by her first hand experience and background as an African woman. Though raised by her parents along with her siblings (4 girls and for boys) equitably with absolutely no sense of privilege based on gender, Keturah became aware of gender discrimination in the society particularly in the African context.  Being born and brought up in a humble Christian family where love, care and sharing where the norms, she grew up to have being privileged to attend both primary and secondary in the rural community of Saminaka Lere LGA. Her graduating class in secondary school contains only 2 girls against 39 boys. Though felt lucky, yet disturbed to accept that it is highly important to tackle the root causes of issues that fuel the backdrop of girl’s education. In 2006 during her compulsory degree project, she carried out a research on the obstacles in female education. Through interviews, observations and interactions, Keturah, was consequently given a thirst for advocating, promoting and defending the  right to education for girls. Despite the full support of her education from her parents, yet she anchored into extreme financial and societal obstacles such as gender-based discrimination from the community and discouragement of all sorts. But Keturah’s self-advocacy and determination made it possible for her to graduate with a bachelor degree in education against all societal odds. As soon as Keturah finished her course work in early 2007, her passion for girls began to draw girls in need to her in a superb village of Luwuna Saminaka, Kaduna state, Nigeria. The tsunami of girls includes: forced marriage, school- drop out, sexual abuse, domestic violence, and gender-related discrimination. Some of this girls came to Keturah for support creating many exciting scenarios that prunes her for mighty task ahead. At this time in her first year of completing her studies, Keturah began visiting families, schools and communities for advocacy purposes until later in October same year she finally started a girls club with first set of needy girls as she passionately given opened ears and hands to these first set of girls, more girls and women. In her personal experience to breaking barriers, she used her experience and skills learnt in the university to find solutions to apply into the adversaries of the girls around her.

Keturah witnessed little if any success in her first few months which led her to remark “I don’t think I am in this for personal gain, but for humanity”. A good remainder to all GEM family, friends and supporters! Keturah had no idea that in her own little way she was developing a mighty project. She was just one ordinary humbled girl in her community who loves girls and their education given her opened heart and hands desperately wanted to help girls who want to reach their potentials. After few months of advocating with girls in her community, Keturah left Luwuna to Jos on relocation after getting married to Shammah on 8th March 2008 (the International women’s day).

In Jos once again, troubled girls were drawn to Keturah. The arena of her work, some some to be given school fees, cloths, counseling, refuge. Keturah , now Mrs.  Shammah who was only a part time turtor of an institution continue tbe overwhelmed with extremely limited with financial and human resources to meet the need of the massive number of girls and women she serves. Though this time discovered that an organization has been established without her awareness, she chose not to promote it rather; if it were to be spread it must be done through the testimony of the beneficiaries of the project. There have pressure to make the project broad, but Mrs. Shammah’s primary focus remain to be committed to keeping the core of the strategy to reach out to the girls principally through the smaller club unit It is in this conducive platform that she witness self empowerment and personal life transformation that excites the emotions of many girls who are empowered to empower others.  Thus; our motto: “to be willing, equipped and available….” Although she did not plan or anticipate it, a multiplication was born. She was blessed with a growing number of volunteers  who invest their time and energy in the life of the girls.

This project work very well in Saminaka and other part Kaduna and Plateau State, however its transformation into Girls Education mission International came when the first founding  girls who strongly feel that naming the project and incorporating it as an established organization will create wider platform that will unite girls in their activism to advocate with coordinated voice enduring a clear wider solidarity on issues affecting the girl child. The status which was granted on 5th July 2011! As GEM spread out from Saminaka vicinity to other part of the country, the management of it became more demanding and complex beyond Keturah’s ability to handle. A volunteer board was form to nurture and provide support and constructive challenge to the management of the organization. Not only does the board ensure the organization stay focus on its mission and strategy but also has responsibility for the strategic leadership, governance and appropriate management control of Girls Education Mission International, while Keturah oversees the day-to-day operations of the organization. At this point, since the organization is a nonprofit body, we rely only upon the donation of faithful givers.  By the touching testimony of GEM beneficiaries, GEM continues to move into other parts of the country and also attracted a very number of international interested individuals and organizations from other parts of the world. Increasingly, we are currently experiencing the interest of individuals, organization and countries that sees great need to help girls and women with problems of various kinds. A number have been and are currently trained through various applications.